Human Resources & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Maria Gago
Emphasis Area
Business Administration

Maria Gago gained knowledge in human resources principles and skills in data analytics and communication as a Human Resources Intern with CVS Health.

How did you get your internship?

I took the PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness course in Fall 2022, and had started applying for internships prior to that course. As a returning college student, I had a resume and interview and work experience, but I still learned quite a bit in the course that I needed in my internship search. Throughout the semester, I used the tools I learned from the course to really hone and tailor my resume and cover letter, and leverage networking tips to find internships to apply for. I had quite a bit of rejections and actually reached out to Stephanie Springer on the Applied Humanities Internship Team because I was feeling pretty discouraged. At that time, she helped me a bit more with my resume, and I was able to find a connection that worked at CVS Health. I applied for their summer internship program for their human resources department and was accepted! I am a firm believer the other opportunities didn’t work out because I ended up where I was meant to be – it was an amazing summer internship program! I also couldn’t have done it without the support I had along the way. 

Why did you choose this internship? 

Going into my internship search, I knew I either wanted to go into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or Human Resources because I wanted to explore that space as a potential career. I really want to have a career where I feel fulfilled and like I am helping people. During the PAH 383 course, one of the many things that stood out to me was that we should research the company we want to work for beforehand. CVS Health was one of the opportunities that came along my way, and they have an amazing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in place, both internally and externally. When I learned about these, I knew this was a company I could work for that would allow me to have an impact in an area that I wanted. I was able to learn a lot about how such a large company ensures diversity and inclusion internally and in the local communities.  

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?

I have really enjoyed a lot of aspects during my summer internship with CVS Health, but a major thing is that I get to work on real projects that impact the company and sit in on calls that are important to the business and leaders we support. I’ve done a lot with Microsoft Excel, sat in on succession planning, and gathered data on a diversity mentorship program survey to present to my boss. I also got to work with compensation to analyze pay increases for inline promotions, and present the data to one of the leaders in an effort to understand and standardize the process. I stayed busy, but it was exciting to learn and grow this summer and I was thankful to make a meaningful impact!

What skills did you develop in your internship?

This summer was full of development. One area of opportunity for myself has always been networking, because I used to feel like I was just using people to get ahead rather than actually building relationships. I actually did a lot of research on networking in an effort to better understand it, and provide training to my team. I learned that networking helps decrease turnover, which is a benefit beyond the fact that it helps most people gain jobs! I was able to build my confidence and had some really great conversations with a lot of people throughout the summer. I also learned a lot about human resources best practices, honed communication skills through virtual presentations, and collaborated on a lot of projects with other team members throughout the summer. 

How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?

My internship at CVS Health has reinforced my need to work for a company that has strong values that are in line with those that I live by. A big draw to CVS Health was their initiatives both internally and externally for marginalized communities. The culture has been fantastic so far, and it keeps me passionate about going into work. I definitely want to not only have a career that I feel fulfilled by, but I also want to work for a company who values and invests in diverse talent, and who’s values align with my own. I am hoping to apply for a full time position with CVS Health after graduation, as they have set a high bar for company culture!

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?

My advice to people searching for an internship is to not give up and utilize all your resources! I am a non-traditional intern – I am older than a typical college graduate, have young children, and have spent a lot of time searching for the “right” career path. It felt daunting at first, especially with a lot of rejections. When feelings of inadequacy came up, I reached out to Stephanie Springer, on the Applied Humanities Internship Team. She was able to help me refocus my efforts when I wanted to give up, and I kept applying. I was able to find a dream internship at CVS Health that values me for the experience I have! I am not sure I would have kept going without the encouragement from the Applied Humanities Internship Team!